Florida Tech’s John Trefry and Ashok Pandit, and Professor Jonathan B. Martin of the University of Florida were awarded a contract for $865,000 from the St. Johns River Water Management District for sediment and groundwater studies in the Indian River Lagoon. The team will investigate inputs of the nutrient elements nitrogen and phosphorus to the lagoon via the sediments.
An algae superbloom hit the lagoon in 2011 and the blooms are continuing to harm the system. In the past three years, more than 47,000 acres of seagrass—approximately 60 percent of the total seagrass area in the central and northern lagoon—have disappeared because the algae blooms block incoming sunlight.
The researchers will focus sampling along the following three transects across the lagoon: adjacent to the mouth of the Eau Gallie River, across the Indian River and Banana River lagoons from near Rockledge to Cocoa Beach, and across the Indian River and Mosquito lagoons north of Titusville and Haulover Canal.
The group will collaborate with Kevin Johnson, department of marine and environmental systems, in his recently funded study of zooplankton, organisms that have the potential to graze on the nuisance algae. The two projects bring a total of $1.1 million to the newly established Indian River Lagoon Research Institute (IRLRI).